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Will Death Wreck Your Image

Jack LaLanne is often quoted as saying,"I can't die. It would wreck my image." If you don't know, Jack LaLanne is an American fitness, exercise, and nutritional expert. Born on September 26, 1914, and referred to as "the godfather of fitness," LaLanne gained worldwide renown for success as a bodybuilder back when bodybuilding wasn't nearly as cool as it is now. He was also noted for prodigious feats of strength. Now 94, LaLanne lives in Morro Bay, California, with his eighty-year-old wife Elaine, and still pumps iron and walks for two hours every morning. According to an article at wikipedia.com, LaLanne was interviewed by Katie Couric on NBC's Today Show where he declared that his two simple rules of nutrition are, "if man made it, don't eat it," and, "if it tastes good, spit it out." Interviewed on his 93' birthday, he said his feat of strength would be "towing my wife across the bathtub." In a June, 2007 interview, he claimed that for his 95th birthday he would like to swim from the coast of California to the Santa Catalina Island, a distance of some twenty miles!

People like Jack LaLanne amaze and astonish us for a very simple reason — precisely because they are the exception to the rule. Most of us in our 60's to 30's even 20's work out two hours in a month – let alone each day! Most of us won't live to be 94, let alone be working up a two hour sweat every morning! And some might decide we don't to want to live to 94 if that's what it takes! But I've got some bad news for Jack — if death will wreck his image, his image is in for a crash. Jack LaLanne has lived a long time, but he won't live forever — at least not here on earth. Three thousand years ago an astute observer of the human condition sought to warn readers in his own age and every age since that life is a dynamic process that moves inexorably from birth and youth till it finally ends in death. In a beautiful allegory found in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8, King Solomon warns all of us, young and old, fit and unfit, health conscious and those who are allergic to pushups and gyms, that our bodies will at last wear out. The climax of the passage is found in verses 6-7 where we read these beautiful and poetic but sobering words: "Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it." In a word, this passage calls us to get right with God while time and opportunity are on our side. Whether or not death wrecks our image depends upon what we do with Solomon's advice. Will we remember our Creator before we grow old and die? The question is not will death find us. Scripture (Hebrews 9:27), simple observation, and human history all testify it will. But death does not have to wreck our image. The good news is that because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, those who die in the Lord will, at the resurrection day, "bear the image of the heavenly Man" as "death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:49, 54). Praise God! Death doesn't have to wreck our image!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ